How to Stay Competitive in the Trades Industry
Just like with funeral directors, people will always need plumbers. And builders. And electricians. And gardeners. And cleaners. In fact, you name the trade, there’s always going to be a need for people skilled in it.
That said, there’s no guarantee that your small trades business will thrive just because the demand is there. In this current climate, you’re going to need a few tricks up your sleeve to stay ahead of the competition and grow a good reputation and loyal client base.
Here at Rhino Trade Insurance we have put together some helpful tips on how to stay competitive in the trades industry. Thank us later!
The power of recommendation
What do most people do when they need a good tradesperson? They ask their friends, family and social media networks for help.
This one won’t be news to you, but word-of-mouth recommendations are the original and best way to grow your client base as someone working in the trades.
Luckily, leaving a good impression behind you isn’t difficult. Delivering quality work, having a friendly manner, keeping your working area clean and pricing the job transparently are all sure-fire ways to make sure your customers remember you in a positive light and share your name with others when the time comes.
Bid for work
Contracts for construction, maintenance, cleaning and installation work – both for the public and private sectors – are constantly advertised on online tender portals in the UK.
You’ll need to meet the criteria, have relevant memberships to professional bodies, be able to prove a good track record of delivering similar projects, as well as the ability to write a decent proposal, but these contracts can be highly lucrative.
Here’s a tip – if proposal writing isn’t your thing or you don’t have the time to dedicate to it, you can hire a bid writer to do it for you.
A good level of tradesman insurance cover is essential in showing customers that your business is to be trusted. Being able to advertise things like Public Liability Insurance and Employer’s Liability Insurance alongside your services makes the customer feel relaxed and confident in using your business.
Having insurance for tradesmen in place helps you secure new work, too. Comprehensive insurance is another string to your bow, and makes your business look more attractive to potential customers. Many clients won’t work with you unless you have certain types of insurance in place, making it a no-brainer if you want to secure those lucrative jobs.
In our digital world, online ratings and reviews hold serious power when it comes to the success of a business. Who wants to hire a one-star electrician? Exactly. He’d probably burn the house down.
First, make sure you’re listed in as many local online business directories as possible. Many people find tradespeople this way, so make sure your contact details are up-to-date across the board, too.
Then, be sure to ask each and every customer to leave a review of your services on online platforms such as Google, Trustpilot, Checkatrade, Tradeify, Trusted Traders by Which?, Yelp etc. You’ll need plenty of reviews to build up a good rating, so don’t be shy in asking. Then, sit back and watch your star rating rise.
Get a website
You need a decent website if you want to be taken seriously by your customer base and attract new business. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but it should include your contact details, a clear list of your services, your location, and the areas you cover. It’s always good to include some glowing testimonials from customers, your star-rating, your level of insurance, the logos of any industry partners and any notable projects you’ve worked on.
If relevant to your trade, some photos of previous projects are a huge selling point. So, if you’re a painter and decorator, gardener, potter or something else a little creative, make sure your work has the chance to shine.
You can use a website generator such as Wix to make your own page – they’re surprisingly easy to use. If your budget allows, consider hiring a website designer to work their magic on your brand. This could be a good investment for your business if it ends up pulling in more work.
There are tradespeople much less skilled than you who are stealing your clients. Does that make you angry? Good! It should, because this will give you the fire you need to start to market yourself more aggressively to overtake the competition.
The first step is to set yourself up with a verified Google Business account, which will show your business in local search results, as well as display your location as an icon on Google Maps. This is easy to do, simply sign up for a Google account and follow the steps under Google business.
If you’re serious about standing out in the saturated trade sector, you should already have at least a Facebook and Instagram page for your business. Don’t like social media? Unfortunately, you might have to learn to, as people increasingly find tradespeople through these channels.
Trade apps like Book a Builder are great to advertise yourself to people locally who might be looking for last-minute jobs done, so make sure you’re signed up.
Find your USP
Basic social media accounts might not cut it if you’re looking to stand head and shoulders above the competition. If you fancy making yourself the ‘face’ of your operation, start to build a brand around your unique selling point.
Your USP could be anything – remember that social media thrives on novelty. So, if you’re a father/daughter brickie team, or you’re a window cleaner with a beautiful singing voice, the internet wants to know about it. Just be sure to respect your customer’s privacy, keep the level of exposure to what you’re comfortable with, and never let promoting yourself get in the way of a job well done.
Advanced marketing techniques
Defeated the standard social media game and ready to take on the final boss? Enter advanced online marketing tactics such as SEO marketing. This might sound like it’s out of your jurisdiction – you’re a tradesperson after all. Don’t worry – it might be simpler than you think.
SEO means Search Engine Optimisation, which is the process of nudging a search engine to show your business in its first few results, thus boosting engagement.
To get started, you’ll need a Google Ads account. Using their free Keyword Planner tool, you can get a list of keywords which might be commonly searched by people looking for businesses like yours. For example, ‘roofer with own scaffolding’. You can then add these terms to the content in your website, making sure the text still flows.
Through Google Ads, you can also promote your services on Google Search, YouTube and other online platforms to customers in your local area who are using search terms relevant to your business. For example, if someone searches ‘builders near me’ in Birmingham, you can pay a sum (within your budget) to target these potential customers who are searching this term.
We realise not all tradespeople will want to do this themselves, or have the budget to hire an SEO specialist. It’s worth watching some free demos on SEO and getting clued up, or asking your friends and family if they’re familiar with SEO – most marketing, business development and digital marketer type roles use it. You could also try a mutual arrangement with a tech-y school leaver or college student to SEO your website in return for a good reference for their CV.
Improve your skills
After all the technical wizardry, the final tip we have is to continuously develop your practical skills in order to stay ahead of the competition.
You’ve heard the old saying, ‘the student becomes the master’. This is partially true in the trades, as continuous improvement should be a given – otherwise you’d stay at apprentice level forever. But if you want to reach ‘senior’ or ‘master’ level in your chosen trade, you’ll need to undertake formal training courses and work towards certifications on an ongoing basis.
Whether you’re a plumber looking to become a Gas Safe certified engineer, or a brickie looking to add a Level 2 NVQ Diploma, you should invest in your professional development at every opportunity.
Here’s a tip – ‘Green’ and ‘eco’ certifications are increasingly a selling point among consumers, so get ahead of the curve and work towards your eco-friendly credentials before everyone else does.
The final word
We hope you’ve found our list useful. At Rhino Trade Insurance, we’re here for all your trade insurance needs – but we also like to impart a little wisdom now and again.
Be under no illusions, some of these tips will take a little time and money. However, if you want to excel in your chosen trade and become a higher-earning, more respected tradesperson, it’s worth the investment for the growth of your business.